Preview and Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

Darius Soriano —  December 21, 2010
NBAE via Getty Images

NBAE via Getty Images

Records: Lakers 21-7 (3rd in West), Bucks 10-16 (9th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.5 (1st in NBA), Bucks 100.2 (30th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.4 (11th in NBA), Bucks 102.9 (8th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bucks: Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas-Roberts, John Salmons, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut
Injuries: Lakers: Theo Ratliff (out); Bucks:Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette, Carlos Delfino, Michael Redd (out)

The Lakers Coming in:  A 5 game win streak has the team building momentum but news of Andrew Bynum’s knee being “sore” after the Raptors game has fans on a bit of an emotional low.  Now all questions are coming back to whether or not Bynum will ever be healthy and if his injury prone nature will hold the Lakers back in some way come playoff time. 

 All I can say to that is take a deep breath and relax.  After reading countless interviews with Bynum and listening to him talk on a variety of occasions, if there’s one thing that needs to be known about ‘Drew it’s that he doesn’t have a filter and will say exactly what’s on his mind.  So if his knee is a bit sore or if he felt a “sharp pain” he’ll say so without any reservations.  This is great for media outlets that love fresh copy, but I can also say that these fantastic quotes don’t always tell the entire story.  For one, Bynum isn’t the only player to ever have a sore knee.  You think Kobe’s knee hasn’t been sore in the past 6 weeks?  What about Odom’s?  You think Pau hasn’t had a few moments where he’s felt a twinge in his hammy?

My point is that these guys are professional athletes and an ache or pain isn’t news.  What’s news is that he said so when so many other athletes wouldn’t.  I understand that with Bynum’s history these things are interpreted differently as it’s not a leap to imagine his next stint on the injured list.  However, from all accounts the swelling is non-existent and his knee isn’t showing any ill effects from his most recent surgery.  So, again, take a deep breath and relax.  Understand that Bynum is going to share more than most but what he’s going through isn’t the most uncommon event ever. 

The Bucks Coming in:  The Bucks have lost 3 games in a row and it’s tough to find a silver lining for them.  They’re currently really banged up and the recent revelation that Brandon Jennings is going to miss 4-6 weeks after needing surgery on his left foot is a tough blow.  Just as bad is the fact that some of their players that they do have aren’t performing as well as expected.  The biggest of which is John Salmons, who has yet to regain the form he showed during last season’s final stretch and playoffs.  He’s scoring nearly 7 points a game less and his PER is only 10.9.  When you consider that he’s supposed to be their go to scorer and now he’s one of their least efficient offensive players, that’s going to be a major problem.

This team has also fallen off some on defense.  When the Lakers and Bucks played on November 16th, the Bucks were ranked #1 in defensive efficiency but in a month’s time they’ve fallen to 8th.  Playing some really good offenses helped knock them down a notch, but for a team that struggles to score as much as this one does any drop off in their ability to slow the other team is going to be difficult to overcome.  This team will still scrap and fight (remember, they’re coached by Scott Skiles), but if they don’t start to get better performances on offense from players that they expect more from while also picking up their defense to be a top 5 team on that side of the ball, it’s doubtful that the pre-season expectations of a playoff team that could get into the 2nd round are going to be fulfilled.

Bucks Blogs:  Jeremy at Bucksketball is doing great work and you should check out his site for all your Bucks needs.  You can find his game preview here.

Keys to game:  With the Bucks reeling, the best way to get a win is to jump on this team early and not let up.  As mentioned earlier, Scott Skiles’ teams will fight hard so if you let them hang around they’re more than happy to keep punching in an attempt to steal the game late.  With the Lakers having an advantage at every position and a deeper bench, they shouldn’t let it happen and instead should try to bury this team.

To get it acomplished, the Lakers need to work the mismatches that they have in their favor.  Whoever Chris Douglas-Roberts is guarding (and I suspect it will be Artest) should get some opportunities in the post to over power the slender wing man.  Lamar Odom should also get some post up and slashing opportunities against Ilyasova as LO is too physical down low for Ersan to deal with consistently.  Obviously Kobe and Gasol will also get ample chances to do damage, but I’d really like them to use the offense to get their shots rather than going one on one to get their baskets.  Not only do the Bucks have a good team defensive scheme to deal with isolations, but both Kobe and Pau have match ups that could theoretically bother them in Salmons (has the size to contest Kobe’s jumper and the quickness to stay with him on the wing) and Bogut (one of the best defensive bigs in the NBA).  So work the ball around and let other guys do some of the heavy lifting.

However, in attacking the Bucks D the Lakers must be careful with the ball and not get too caught up in trying to make the difficult pass.  The Lakers must play smart as the Bucks are 4th in the league in opponent’s and would love to get some extra possessions in the open court to get easier baskets.  So, the Lakers must show patience in their sets, make the Bucks D rotate, and then make the easy pass to the open man to get a good shot.  If they do those things, they’ll put themselves in a position to not only score efficiently but to also force the Bucks to play more against a set Lakers’ D when they take the ball the other way.

On defense, the Lakers just need to play smart and focused.  Without Jennings the Bucks are going to struggle to create at PG and that greatly helps the Lakers shift their defense to better account for Salmons, Bogut, and CDR.   The lack of an explosive penetrator allows the Lakers to show more help on these players and further strangle an offense that already struggles to breathe.  If the Lakers simply understand the personnel that’s on the floor, play hard and with their heads, they shouldn’t struggle to get the needed stops that will fuel their transition and early offense.

In reality though, regardless of the keys to winning mentioned above, this game comes down to focus and staying in the moment of tonight.  As we all know, there’s a pretty big game later this week that is easy to look ahead to.  You throw in the fact that it’s the holiday season and it’s easy to be distracted right now.  The Lakers need to keep their eyes on tonight’s opponent and not worry about later this week.  If they do that, they’ll be just fine and we’ll be talking about a 6 game streak going into the Christmas Day game.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start time in the west on Fox Sports.  Also listen on ESPN Radio 710am

Darius Soriano

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52 responses to Preview and Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

  1. For Warren!

  2. Great Jonh K, we are good to go now, especially since my son and I are attending this game tonight, a big fat W, would be nice indeed. I see all of the Buck’s injuries, I hate to say it but I was looking forward to seeing a close hard fought win by the Lakers, it will be easier now, but then with this team you never know, huh?

    GO LAKERS . . .

  3. That Bucks blog game preview was depressing! (e.g. “Virtually nothing good is possible in L.A. this evening.”) Although since I follow the Warriors as my second team, I know the feeling.

    For those of us watching on League Pass, it will be nice to see the game in HD for the first time in three games. Here’s hoping the Lakers stay sharp too, har har.

  4. I think what exacerbated the recent news about Bynum’s knee soreness is not just that Drew seems to be a bit more “free to talk” but also that reporters are more likely to flock to him every time he winces on the court or adjusts his knee brace.

  5. I don’t mean this to be contentious, but I think what gets fans worked up any time Bynum winces is that he has been out or slowed by knee injuries for the past three years straight. We expect the worst.

  6. I am watching Bynum and Ron-Ron taking practice freethrows, and he (Bynum) looks good to go. I am also rocking my FB&G T-shirt tonight.

  7. On other news…. Sasha Vujacic is probably yelling “PHIL!” everytime he makes a shot. 14 points on 8 shots including 2 made 3s… J-Farm with 7 points and 6 assists.

  8. Sasha is 6-8 and has 14 points and four rebounds in 17 minutes so far.

  9. So.. the Bulls are missing 2 of their 3 front-court rotation players, and are blowing Philly away by 40. I can’t wait to see them play the other 2 top teams in the East. Going to be awesome.

  10. No matter what is said fans seem determined to discussed every band aid applied to Andrew. Give it a rest! At least he doesn’t have the flu.

  11. Nice preview, Darius. With the long layoff until the Christmas showdown, I see the Lakers coming out and taking care of business early. The Bucks haven’t near the firepower to keep up KoPau and co (just made that up).

  12. I know we’ve been saying it all season, but Lamar has really been a revelation on offense this season. Just fantastic to see.

  13. Maybe it was just the match-up, but the Machine got more minutes than Jordan tonight…sweet irony. Jordan left for more time, Sash didn’t complain much this year being at the end of our bench and is now getting his burn. Good.

    Here’s to 60% of my prediction. 6 game run sounds good for the night, then a little rest and preparation for Christmas.

  14. im out of town, anyone have a link?

  15. I think we should bench Kobe so we can have all 5 reserves. It’d be the true Killer Bs!
    PG: Blake
    SG: Brown
    SF: Bryant
    PF: Barnes
    C: Bynum

  16. I think that Ilyasova putback is pretty much indicative of what we’ve all been saying about the issues LA seems to have protecting their own defensive glass. Just put a body on the guy so he can’t wander down through the key for the rebound and layup…

  17. its very frustrating that fisher play almost 10 more minutes than Blake, makes no sense

  18. Dont look good for the Lakers tonight

  19. Embarrassing. Losing at home to a sh*tbox Bucks team that doesn’t even have 2 of their best players. And it’s even the 2nd game of a back to back for them. Only against us could that midget Boykins have a season high. Shocking.

  20. Can someone summarize what has happened so far? Was unable to watch the game until now

  21. There is no excuse for losing to the Bucks. None. Totally lazy effort.

  22. Pretty much the usual. Taking a crappy team for granted and playing with no energy or sense of urgency. The Bucks want it more and we can seem to care less. Its as if all we care about is Miami.

  23. pathetic performance tonight

  24. Hey guys it’s Christmas! Giving lots of extra possesions to the bucks, open threes, giving out career highs, it’s the Season of GIving Remember?

  25. I wonder what the excuse will be this game….oh wait, there is no excuse, this is a 3-10 road team that had been struggling big time. Anyone would have to agree that this was a heartless effort.

  26. im an optimist on this site…

    and we should not lose to this team. bad loss.

  27. “It’s the first game back home after a long road trip.” That’s gonna be the typical loser excuse of the night.

    I don’t care if it’s the first game back after a 30 game road trip with that last road game being in Siberia. There’s absolutely no excuse for losing to this piss poor team. None.

  28. This pains me to say but if the Bucks are going to do this to this team then Miami will clobber them just like the Cavs did last year. I hope they prove me wrong but this team to me for the past month and a half has not been good, and quite frankly their record is pathetic given their strength of schedule so far.

  29. I hope the Bucks makes it at least a 20 point loss. They deserve it after this pitiful effortless performance

  30. Lakers play with some sort of a stupid sense of entitlement this season, as well as serious lackadaisical attitude. No urgency whatsoever. I’ll tell you what though – I’ll take this pissed off squad vs Miami though.

  31. Oh well…they’re going to respond by killing the Heat.

  32. Lakers with their absolute worst performance of the year

  33. Another positive: I thought Drew looked good in his limited minutes out there.

  34. blown out by the Bucks!? any predictions for for the next game?

  35. IT’S CHRISTMAS EVERYONE AND LAKERS ARE GIVING OUT FREE GAMES!! What a great Christmas gift for the league! losing against freaking 10-16 Bucks sans Brandon Jennings!

  36. I can’t wait to hear or read the post game interviews, starting with Phil. I guarantee you they’ll all sound like they don’t even care, like losing is not a big deal. “It’s just one game, time to move onto the next.” Whatever. Well, now they’re 5 games back of the Spurs in the loss column. Good job.

  37. Lakers, it is the teams fault. They talk about improving as the season goes along and that any one game is not a big deal, and that they will eventually all pull it together. I got news for you Lakers, this aint last year or the year before that. You are third place in the conference and are 4 games behind the Spurs who are a much better team than you right now, not to mention 2 1/2 behind the Mavs. Lets get it together and take every game seriously.

  38. The Lakers better come out with a purpose to pound the ball down the Heat’s throat in the paint or they will get run out of the gym. The Heat look really good right now and they lost to the Mavs last night in a close game, but overall since the Cavs game they have been a completely different team. Anything less than a complete effort wont cut it.

    I read somewhere that when this losing started Kobe and the guys decided to NOT have a team meeting, well maybe this is the right time to because up until this point no game matters more than Christmas day. It will be the best team they have faced and it will be a measuring stick of how good this Lakers team really is.

  39. This game cost me 6 bills, and my stream was Bucks play-by-play to boot. Shoot me in the head! “Rugged interior” and “tough play” are how they describe the bucks D. I call it fouling. On both late fouls involving Bogut & Kobe, Bogut was moving his feet through the play. Clear block and the announcers freak out when a block is called, then laugh Kobe off during his ejection after the inaccurately called charge. Pathetic. You could tell in the first quarter the refs were gonna “let em play”. I’m not trying to excuse the lack of spring and urgency displayed by the Lakers. You could tell they and the crowd expected to show up and get a W. It was just ugly all around…I guess that’s what you get for loading up on “just another Tuesday night in the NBA”, hope we get a better game for Christmas.

  40. This could be a good thing for them though to wake them up. Look what happened last year before Christmas. We were on a winning streak (against the doldrums of the league) but were nonetheless in very close games with them, and then were subsequently blown out by the Cavs on Christmas because we masked all our troubles behind the wins. I’m not even mad at the Bucks right now cause they really did put in work for this game.

  41. And Dear Lamar,

    One summer. That’s all it would have taken. One summer of work and you would have a right hand…You would get 20 in your sleep. That is all.

    Lakers Fans

  42. Credit to the bucks, who played pretty stellar and physical D tonight.
    This was a game, similar to what we went through at the end of last season, where the opposing team just plays a solid zone against us (but man up against Kobe), and we have no answer.
    I am all for passing the ball, but this team seems to overpass (going for the home run) on a majority of their possessions, and they tend to get burned for it.
    But the biggest issue tonight was Pau. He was getting creamed – I mean absolutely creamed – by Bogut tonight. The Bucks got easy baskets the whole night when Bynum was out because the Lakers had to send help D over to Pau.
    Also, in the fourth, after 3 quarters of a very physical game (from the bucks) the whistles starting coming, and quickly. Call the game one way or the other, but when the whistles turned, the Bucks were allowed to be physical (see the “steal” against Kobe when his defender fell down and wacked him against the leg), and the Lakers were allowed touch fouls.
    You are right, Knickers, Kobe did get a home court foul against Bogut late in the fourth. But that was after 7 or 8 straight possessions with the Lakers going to the hoop and getting shoved in the back with no call and an outlet to Boykins. And Kobe was sending a statement to the officials with those tech’s (and was right because Bogut was in the restricted area after looking through replay) because the Bucks were over the back of our rebounders all night and the officials looked right away.

    I hate blaming the officials.

    Bad game by Lakers in the first half, and even worse in the second.

  43. This can’t be real, I missed the game and so happen to check on the score and they are losing by 20 at home a terrible team. 20 points. Man I don’t buy laziness or being tired blah blah blah. 20 points to a bad team. The lakers just are as good as we thought they would be this season. I’m not saying this has any implications for the playoffs. But the lakers have losses 8 games so far and they’ve had the easiest schedule out of any good team in the league.

    I read that somebody question why fisher gets way more playing time than Blake despite being a hug detriment to the team. There are games were he is just terrible on both ends of the court yet we have a back up that is much better but yet doesn’t get a chance to contribute. And the lakers are paying 4 million for him to do nothing. I just don’t understand it.

  44. I am not going to say the Bucks are a terrible team because they do have talent they even ended the Mavs 10+ game winning streak, However, they were missing three of their best players tonight. AND they let Earl Boykins, a guy who was struggling to find his way on to an NBA roster the past 2 seasons, obliterate them. I seriously hope they find a way to shore up their pathetic defense by Christmas day or else Lebron and Wade will jam it right down their throats.

  45. Boykins and Dooling outscored Blake and Fisher 30-2 in this game.

  46. I know darius and crew don’t like negative comments but i fully believe that this team is not going to make it to the finals this year. they are totally pathetic and losing to the bucks without 2 main players is just effing maddeing. they don’t care so why should the fans. i watch the dang games to see the beauty of basketball and end up getting tortured with seeing fish dribble and lose the ball and commit stupid turnovers.

    this team has probably had the easiest schedule compared to any playoff caliber team and they aren’t at the top…wait until they start playing dallas, spurs, heat, celtics, etc…

    this game was very very very upsetting.

  47. Vujacic had 16 on 6/8 FGs tonight for NJ. Just saying…

  48. I missed this game so I’m going to speak in generalities rather than specifics to this game. So, stick with me for a brief moment.

    If you think a single game (or even a string of games) in December speak to the overall quality of a team, I’d have to strongly disagree with that perspective. Seasons are long and hard and to put too much stock into a game like this is too simple a path in the complex and windy road of a full NBA campaign. Said another way, saying that this game is indicative of what this team will accomplish is just as bad and narrow a view as claiming that this team is *definitely* going to win the championship because of a blowout win over a really good, contending team.

    What a game like this proves is how *bad* the Lakers can be on a night; just as a great performance will show how *good* they can be on another night. Games like this one are frustrating ONLY because we know what this team is actually capable of when playing its best. So why then turn around and imply that this game is more representative of what this team is about than a good win? Do fans actually think that this team isn’t good enough to win a championship because it lost tonight? If so, I’m not sure if following basketball is really for you – especially following this Lakers team.

    Games like this happen. That’s a simple explanation and will likely get shot down in the heat of frustration. I get it. But if you’re looking for me to jump off the ledge with you, you’re reading the wrong guy and have come to the wrong site. Venting is fine because, again, I get it. But when doing it, try not to take that next step of thinking that because you saw little effort tonight that the effort won’t ever be there or can’t be summoned on another. That’s a tricky step and not a stable one to put your foot on.

    Last note, there are no guarantees that this team will accomplish what we all want, just like there aren’t any guarantees that they won’t. The point is to go through the season and follow them and join them on the journey to see what happens. If you’re positive of either one or the other it’s a shame because the fact is that no one knows. As we’ve said a hundred times before, enjoy the journey. Games like this make you appreciate the successes that come later.

  49. Just got back from STAPLES, and losing to the Bucks is definitely frustrating. Tonight was easily the worst game I’ve seen the Lakers play all year. But worse than the fact that the Lakers lost is the way the Lakers lost. Credit the Bucks here because they clearly outhustled the Lakers for loose balls and on the boards. No effort, no energy, and aside from Kobe’s 2-T outburst at the end of the 4th, it was hard to tell if the team cared. The 50% shooting for the Bucks is way too high, and it seemed like the Bucks had far more uncontested shots than what should be expected. While this was only one game, as Lakers fan we all know that titles are won in June, but the journey to that point begins now. By no means am I an expert, but there were a few things I noticed tonight that stood out to me that will help determine whether or not we three-peat.
    1. Pau Gasol’s ability to play against physical bigs. While Game 7 of last year’s Finals dispelled the myth that Pau is soft, Pau definitely struggled with Bogut’s size and physicality. I noticed that Phil substituted Bynum in for Pau twice tonight because Pau could not handle Bogut on both ends, and Bynum did a much better job with Bogut.
    2. Artest’s role on offense. When he isn’t posting up, Ron looks very lost on the offensive end. You can sense his indecision when he catches the ball at the 3 point line. That being said, there was a play in the 2nd quarter where Kobe drove in the lane, got doubled, and kicked it out to Ron. While Ron missed the shot, this play tells me that Kobe understands that he is going to need Ron in the playoffs. Continuing to pass the ball to a wide open Ron and encouraging him to shoot shows trust in Ron, and if losing a few regular season games now allows Ron to find his shot again in time for the playoffs, I can live with it. After all, in Game 7 of the Finals last season, it was Ron who stepped up when everyone else was struggling. We need that Artest again this spring.
    3. Shot selection and turnovers. It seems that the Lakers get in trouble when they get sloppy with the ball, which lets the other team score easily in transition. Maybe it’s the regular season, but I don’t remember the Lakers turning it over this often in the last 2 playoffs.
    I don’t think its time to panic. If Phil isn’t panicking, I don’t know why I should. As fans, we’ve experienced the journey to the Finals for the last few years, and each of those journeys has had its share of bumps in the road. With proven winners and leaders in Phil, Kobe, and Fisher, there is no reason to believe that this team won’t figure it out in time for the playoffs.